Breakfast, Egg Dishes, Recipes, Reviews

Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum’s newest novel, The Lost Family. I received an advanced copy of the novel to join with other bloggers in a virtual supper club to celebrate the book’s June 5 release. I was not compensated in any other way, and was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. 

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Click here for more information about #TheLostFamilySupperClub, and to find what the other bloggers brought to this party!

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

Happy Sunday! First let’s start with the book… and then the food.

A description of the book from the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.

Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.

Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.

This book was absolutely captivating from start to finish. Even though it’s being released at the beginning of summer (well, almost), don’t think this is a light, beach read. Jenna Blum writes with such passion and depth that you will be drawn to the pages. It’s hard to put down!

I will warn you though, this story is bittersweet from start to finish. Every character’s flaws are readily apparent, if not to themselves, to those around them. Such is the human experience. Parts were tough to read, especially as you understand the various ways that Peter, June, and Elsbeth seek to deal with their individual pain and the shadow of Peter’s war experience on the whole family.

See, Peter lost his wife and twin daughters in the Holocaust, and has spent every moment of his life dealing with his grief and loss. Work is his method of coping, and Masha’s (named after his late wife) is the essence of their pre-war dreams. Sadly though, Masha’s does not survive either, and that (to me) seems to be a catalyst for change in the new family’s lives. And yet… there’s beauty in their pain, and redemption in their stories. I won’t give away the ending (READ THE BOOK!) but it is satisfying. The mark of a good story, in my opinion!

When I first started reading this book, I immediately understood WHY this book was being celebrated with a virtual supper club. The food is almost like a character in this novel! Jenna wrote all of us bloggers a sweet note (and sent chocolate!) about her love of food and the inspiration of many of the dishes in this book… “I LOVE FOOD, and I had a joyous time creating and kitchen-testing all the recipes for Masha’s menus in The Lost Family (there are two, Spring 1966 and Fall 1965). I relied on my German friend Christiane’s mother’s recipes, my childhood memories of my Jewish grandmother’s dishes, the Mad Men Cookbook and similar cookbooks from the 1960s, and ingredients from my garden.” Food was celebrated throughout the novel–everything from fancy German and Jewish cuisine served at Masha’s, to family meals, to Midwestern fare that June and Elsbeth eat when visiting June’s mother, and much, much more.

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

The two dishes that compelled ME the most though were not from any of these experiences. Actually, they came from the end of the book–scrambled eggs that Peter makes for his family on the regular, and a mushroom soup that he works to perfect with his daughter by his side. I was *this close* to recreating his mushroom soup (and I still might!) but it has been roasty toasty in Nashville lately, so soup hasn’t been something I’ve been craving.

But these eggs… don’t they sound delicious? This whole breakfast spread, really. “Sometimes, on Saturday mornings, if the Claremont had had a good night the evening before, Peter didn’t go in right away. He got up with Elsbeth, and they made breakfast: fresh-squeezed orange juice–naturally, Peter would not hear of juice from a carton or can. Braed toasted in the oven so it would crisp all the way through, Elsbeth turning it carefully with tongs. And Peter’s special scrambled eggs: first he caramelized onions in a pan, cooking them very slowly in butter until they were translucent; then he added eggs whipped to a froth, heavy cream, ham, fresh dill, and the secret ingredient: a dollop of Neufchâtel cheese. Elsbeth was always allowed to drop this last onto the dish from a wooden spoon. She had her own jacket with her name stenciled on the lapel, a mini chef’s hat, rubber clogs, and a special stool to stand on while she helped Peter stir and mince and measure. The Fabulous Rashkins, the called themselves, and when the food was ready to be served, they presented it to June at the table with a bow, Peter sweeping his hand to the right and Elsbeth to the left. “Ta da! The Fabulous Rashkins! Lo and behold!” (page 277)”

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

I am just in love with that scene. There’s so much happiness and joy between father and daughter. With the knowledge of what comes before and after (it’s actually a memory), it’s very poignant in the life of Peter, June, and Elsbeth. There’s performance and ritual and relationships… and caring for others through a purposeful, planned, and delicious meal. Though my eggs aren’t just like Peter’s in ingredients, they are in spirit: a way to care for my family through good food. These are the frittata cups that my son loves most for weekday breakfasts at school. And why wouldn’t he? These light and fluffy egg muffins are full of three types of cheese. The ricotta contributes to the lightness of the frittata cups, the Parmesan gives them a salty bite, and the cheddar on top gets all brown and crispy. Yum!

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

What I also love about the family breakfast scene is how Elsbeth helps her father in the kitchen. You can tell that this is a usual occurrence, not just an occasional thing. That is what I hope to accomplish with my son as he grows up, and he actually helps me make these muffins. He’s getting good with the whisk and loves to top them with cheese (and eat some too, haha… he is only two after all). I hope you enjoy these Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups, and The Lost Family. Let me know if you read it… I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

one year ago: Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip
two years ago: Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce 
three years ago: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese
four years ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup
five years ago: Blueberry Burgers
six years ago: Parmesan Garlic Rolls
seven years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Cheesy Ricotta Frittata Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded (I’ve used Gruyere, mozzarella, and cheddar but fontina is suggested in the original)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with silicone liners (paper liners probably would stick, but I haven’t tried them).

Combine the eggs, ricotta, milk, Parmesan, and a generous amount of black pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine until the eggs are beaten. Transfer to prepared muffin tins, filling each well 1/2 to 3/4 full. Top with shredded cheese and chives.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the frittata cups comes out clean. Tops should be puffy and edges should be golden brown, just pulling away from the sides. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove individual frittata cups to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you do not use silicone liners, a butter knife can be used to loosen the frittata cups from the pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Frittata cups can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Cheesy ricotta frittata cups in celebration of Jenna Blum's newest novel, The Lost Family.  #TheLostFamilySupperClub

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary, advance reading copy of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum for my participation in the #TheLostFamilySupperClub party. All opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for this post.
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Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

Eeek, I don’t want to tell you  how long ago I made this recipe! It’s embarrassing. But I wanted to wait until fall to share this gem of a meatless meal with you. This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much [and my indoor photos don’t help it… alas], but it tastes like a million bucks!

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

Despite this dish’s less-than-steller appearance, it is so unbelievably good, whether prepared fresh or reheated for lunches later in the week. Mmm! The star of this meatless sensation is absolutely the creamy, sweet potato-based sauce. It’s just a little cheesy [thanks ricotta!] and somewhat reminiscent of summer since the flava flava comes from none other than pesto! So you can reminisce about warm days while cozying up with a warm bowl of this goodness. 🙂 Of course, you can’t just have the sauce… you gotta add some extra deliciousness to it! This time I added kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and orzo to the mix, but you can absolutely use other veggies or even some meat. I think bacon would be great here too… but can you ever go wrong with bacon? No matter how you mix it, this dinner is great! The slight crunch of the kale, the sweet essence of sweet potatoes [sorry that sounds weird but it was just speaking to me today–haha!], and the fun add in pasta shape of orzo makes this a dish that I know you’ll love! Enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Cantucci (Almond Biscotti)
two years ago: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
three years ago: Autumnal Muffins
four years ago: Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup
five years ago: Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
six years ago: Spaghetti + Meatballs=Love

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

adapted from The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups kale, tightly packed [about 2/3 of a large bunch–washed, thoroughly dried, stems removed, and chopped into bite sized pieces]
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes [dry packed or drained and patted dry if water/oil packed]

Directions:

Wash and dry sweet potatoes, then pierce with a fork all over and place in a microwave safe container. Microwave on high for 6 minutes, then flip and microwave for another 4-5 minutes or until potatoes are cooked all the way through. Set aside to cool in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, then peel and chop into chunks. Discard skin.

Meanwhile, cook orzo to al dente according to package directions.

In a separate pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute, for about 4-5 minutes until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Season generously with pepper. Add milk and broth, then bring to a boil, being careful to not let it boil over. Reduce heat to low.

Add sweet potato chunks, ricotta, pesto, and crushed red pepper to broth mixture. Whisk constantly until all has been incorporated. Break up the sweet potato chunks as you go, and if desired, use an immersion blender to completely smooth the sauce. Next, add kale and sundried tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes until kale has reduced in volume. Stir in orzo and serve immediately.

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

A luscious, creamy baked pasta with crisp bacon, succulent fresh corn, a pop of sweet blueberries, and a crunchy topping made out of a surprise ingredient. Intrigued now?

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comAt my house, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta. Ben and I can eat an embarrassingly large portion of baked pasta at a single meal. Then after it’s wrapped up for the fridge, we are constantly opening it up and using a fork [or our fingers, sorry Mom] for another bite. There’s just something about baked pasta. From looking at the title of this recipe, Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta, you’ve probably surmised that there’s at least something a little unusual with this pasta dish. Bacon and ricotta… pretty standard fare for Italian food. Blueberries? Now that’s a little odd, but it’s summer so sometimes berries creep into weird places. But then you look at that photo and you’re like, wait… is that oats? On pasta? Ummm, what’s going on? Well, that my friends, is granola. Granola?!?! Well, yes. That’s what my husband said too. Ha!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comI developed this recipe as my entry in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. When I first received the package of Bluesberry Granola I planned to use it in a breakfast dish, such as french toast or breakfast quesadillas, or the like. But it’s a contest, and I figured everyone would do that. So I did something different! And guess what? It worked!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comThe sweetness of the blueberry, almond, and coconut granola [which is SO delicious, btw] is cut by the salty bacon, creamy ricotta, and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed into the topping. I also mixed in some fresh sweet corn since I can’t get enough of that in the summertime, and a handful of herbs from my garden. Perfection on a plate! This isn’t your average pasta dish… it’s even better! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Coffee Blondies
two years ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
three years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins
four years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta* [I used Trottole, a curly, thick, corkscrew shape but any small pasta would do]
  • *1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • a small handful of fresh basil, minced
  • a small handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Bluesberry Granola – from Golden Girl Granola
  • 5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool.

Then, stir together ricotta cheese, corn, blueberries, rosemary, basil, and lemon thyme until combined. [If you don’t have these herbs, substitute about 1/4 cup fresh herbs of choice, or ~1 teaspoon dried herbs.] Season with white pepper and sea salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then add egg and bacon and stir again.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Fold pasta into ricotta mixture, adding reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until sauce evenly coats pasta. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, gently crush granola with the back of a wooden spoon until just broken down. Mix in Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Golden Girl Granola sent me one bag of granola of my choice for the purposes of participation in this recipe challenge. I received no further compensation and was not asked or paid to publish positive comments. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find their products in various stores on the east coast. Thank you for the chance to try your granola!

Breakfast, Pancakes, Recipes

Ricotta Pancakes

Delicate, melt-in-your mouth pancakes are made fluffy and delicious with ricotta, orange, and cinnamon. These fancy pancakes shouldn’t be missed!

Ricotta Pancakes | thepajamachef.com #breakfastThere’s pancakes and there is pancakes. These pancakes are pancakes, if you know what I mean. They’re light and fluffy, but also doughy and satisfying at the same time. The secret ingredient that makes ’em that way is in the title–ricotta!

Ricotta Pancakes | thepajamachef.com #breakfastIt’s a rare occasion that I have leftover ricotta, but I just so happened to have a half cup or so left from a pasta recipe I tried and I didn’t want it to go to waste. That would be so sad! I wanted to try baking with ricotta, but breakfast sounded better… so pancakes it was! I’ve made greek yogurt pancakes and sour cream pancakes before and honestly, the texture is pretty similar. The batter is thick but the pancakes cook beautifully and aren’t tough at all. My recipe uses a liberal amount of orange zest/juice and a touch of cinnamon for a pop of flavor, but you really can flavor these however you’d like–another type of citrus, perhaps, or some fresh berries, or chocolate… Mmm! The possibilities are endless. If I were you, I’d try them out this weekend. 🙂 I would, but I’ll be busy moving. Wish me luck! 🙂

Ricotta Pancakes | thepajamachef.com #breakfast

one year ago: Blueberry Multigrain French Toast Bake
two years ago: Maple Berry Overnight Oats
three years ago: Cinnamon Carrot Muffins
four years ago: Springtime Linguine

Ricotta Pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Print

from Running to the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of 1 orange
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted [or oil]
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • butter or oil, for cooking
  • maple syrup or powdered sugar, for serving

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, egg, orange juice, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Gently stir until just combined.

When skillet is hot, grease with oil or butter. Spoon batter in 1/4 cup increments on skillet, spreading if necessary. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Serve with additional maple syrup or powdered sugar.

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Lasagna Rollups

Need a fun twist on regular lasagna? Try this zucchini and yellow squash stuffed variety! It’s easy and cheesy and full of all kinds of yum.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Lasagna Rollups | thepajamachef.com

I don’t know about you but I know that zucchini and yellow squash are going to start invading my life in the next couple of months. I don’t know tons of people in Nashville with gardens [no offense Southerners, but midwest gardens>southern gardens ANY DAY. Same goes for farmer’s markets but that’s a whole ‘nother story.]. Back in the days of Indiana living, we knew tons of people with gardens and I could hardly go anywhere without being given zucchini and squash for free. Even at the farmer’s market. It was like, buy 1 get 24820 free. No joke. So I’ve got to start getting my recipes ready NOW. Even though I’m in the south, I know squash season is a-comin’.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Lasagna Rollups | thepajamachef.comI actually made these Zucchini and Yellow Squash Lasagna Rollups LAST summer but never got around to sharing them. Oh well, here they come! I know I’ll be making them several times throughout the summer. I don’t usually mind turning on my oven on a hot day if I know something tasty will come out of it. These lasagna rollups are quite a treat, and are so fun to eat. They use three kinds of cheese [creamy ricotta, sharp Parmesan, and mild mozzarella] so there’s something for everyone! For me, they’re a great way to use up yellow squash too. It’s not my favorite by itself, but when paired with something else I can handle it. Especially if there’s cheese! 🙂 I hope you enjoy this great meatless meal!

one year ago: White Chocolate Snack Mix
two years ago: Pork Chops with Quinoa, Kale, and Blood Orange
three years ago: Best Burrito Bowls Ever
four years ago: Sausage Apple Egg Strata

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Lasagna Rollups

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

from Skinnytaste

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
  • 1 medium yellow squash, grated and squeezed dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 lasagna noodles, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2-1 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan and spread about 1 cup of sauce in bottom of pan.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add zucchini and squash and saute for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

Then, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, Parmesan, egg, and pepper. Fold in veggies until combined.

Lay the lasagna noodles down on a clean countertop, patting dry with a dish towel as needed. Spread 1/3 cup of veggie mixture over the entire surface of the noodle. Gently roll and place seam-side down in the prepared pan. Repeat until all noodles and veggie mixture are gone.

Divide remaining sauce over top of lasagna rollups, then sprinkle with cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, until heated through and cheese on top is melted.